Dolomite And Emerald BioSystems Collaborate To Produce Award Winning Novel Protein Crystallography Instrument

Published: Jan 29, 2010

Royston, UK (29 January 2010) – Dolomite, a world leader in microfluidic design and manufacture, is delighted to announce its collaboration with Emerald BioSystems in the development of the Microcapillary Protein Crystallization System (MPCS) Plug Maker™. The Plug Maker has just won a coveted “New Product Award” at LabAutomation 2010 (Palm Springs, CA). This novel touchscreen instrument enables low-volume crystallization (5-10 nL protein/experiment), for the production of diffraction-ready crystals with no wasted protein. The MPCS Plug Maker is ideal for applications such as ligand screening, hybrid screening and microfluidic seeding. The Plug Maker is a self-contained unit operated from a built-in touchscreen control unit, taking up less than two feet of bench width.

Dolomite carried out all elements of the Plug Maker system design and development (including concept generation, industrial design, hardware and software engineering, and manufacture), creating an easy-to-use system based on Emerald’s core science. The Plug Maker automates well-validated Emerald technology, rapidly creating a series of 10nl plugs of protein and precipitant samples in a plastic CrystalCard, which are then allowed to crystallize. This revolutionary performance was made possible using Dolomite’s ultra-smooth pump technology, coupled with its world-beating expertise in microfluidics and engineering. Dolomite added further value by completing the entire instrument design (including a vision system, fully automated liquid handling system and touchscreen control software). The development took just 18 months from first concept to launch at LabAutomation.

Fine gradient optimization and sparse matrix screening can be performed simultaneously to identify optimal crystallization growth conditions. Experimental conditions are easily optimized with the ability to form on-chip gradients, with only 22 µl of protein needed. In addition, the ability to perform up to 800 experiments per chip maximizes throughput for a highly efficient workflow.

Lance Stewart, CEO, Emerald BioSystems commented, “Dolomite has delivered a world-class product in the Plug Maker. Using Dolomite’s microfluidic expertise, we have rapidly been able to take the product from initial concept and proof of principle to full instrument manufacture.” Dolomite is subsequently supplying manufactured units solely to Emerald BioSystems and has agreed to collaborate with them on any further developments to the instrument.

For further information on the MPCS Plug Maker, please visit, or for details on the complete range of microfluidic products available from Dolomite, including chips, connectors/interconnects, pumps, valves and flow sensors, please visit

The Dolomite Centre Limited

Dolomite is a global leader in the design and manufacture of microfluidics devices. With offices in the UK, US and Japan and distributors throughout the rest of the world, its clients range from universities developing leading-edge analytical equipment, to manufacturers of chemical, life sciences and clinical diagnostics systems.

Excellent microfabrication facilities that include cleanrooms, precision glass processing facilities and applications laboratories were established with £2m in funding from the UK Department of Trade and Industry's Micro and Nano Technology (MNT) Manufacturing Initiative. Dolomite’s expertise includes top quality engineering and scientific staff with strong backgrounds across the broad range of disciplines required for success in bringing microfluidics applications to the market, including chemistry, biotechnology, control system development, electronics, physics and instrument design and supply.

Emerald BioSystems

Emerald BioSystems is a leading provider of instrument and reagent products to structural biologists. Emerald’s research tools accelerate the gene-to-protein-structure determination process through advanced computer aided gene design, automated cell-free protein expression, protein purification, and crystallization. A high level of efficiency for protein crystal generation can be achieved using Emerald’s novel Microcapillary Protein Crystallization System (MPCS™) Plug Maker™ and CrystalCards™ for nanovolume microfluidic crystallization.

Emerald BioStructures

Emerald BioStructures is an integrated gene-to-structure collaborative research organization specializing in drug discovery services. Emerald operates an efficient high-throughput platform leveraged for fragment-based lead discovery and structure-based drug design. We provide enabling structural insight for breakthrough drugs that are highly selective and efficacious against chosen targets.

ATCG3D Funding Acknowledgements

Emerald gratefully acknowledges funding from the NIGMS-NCRR co-sponsored PSI-2 Specialized Center Grant U54 GM074961 which supported development of the MPCS and CrystalCard technology through the Accelerated Technologies Center for Gene to 3D Structure (

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